“I really loved the notion of people getting together and being better than they could actually be individually.” – Gabrielle Reece
The Foundation Course at Unbeatable Mind brings it all together for you, so you can train to completely fulfill your capacity as a human being and achieve 20x performance. More than 12,000 people have already gone through our online courses so that they could learn now how to be a fifth plateau, world-centric leader. Check it out at unbeatablemind.com/20xyourlife.
Gabrielle Reece (gabbyreece) is a world-renowned athlete, TV personality, New York Times bestselling author, and model. Together with her husband Laird, they launched a new all-encompassing fitness program called XPT. Find out what she has to say on parenting as an athlete, training, business leadership and so much more.
- How business leadership is about being willing to learn from others.
- Gabby’s understanding of parenting & that kids can’t really be compelled to do things (even things that they’re good at).
- As you get older, training is as much or more about maintaining physical ability as it is about elite performance.
Watch this episode to get an inside look at an elite, athletic life.
Listen to this episode to get an inside look at an elite, athletic life.
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Hey folks. Welcome back this is mark divine with the unbeatable mind podcast. Thanks so much for being here. Really appreciate your time and do not take it lightly. There are about a hundred billion things vying for your attention and the fact that you’re here listening to this, or watching this, speaks volumes. So thanks.
Before I introduce our guest Gabby Reece – Gabrielle Reece…
Gabby. Gabby’s fine.
Mark. Okay we’ll go with Gabby today… in more detail. Of course, you probably know all about her – but anyway, I’ll introduce her in more detail in a moment…
But before I do unbeatablemind.com has information on the new foundation course which was recently updated. Over 12,000 people have gone through this training. It’s integrated leadership development, and if you don’t know what that means just think we bring it all together for you so you develop along physically, mentally, emotionally, intuitionally and spiritually lines of development. Seeking to evolve ourselves to our highest capacity as a human being.
And we call that fifth plateau, world-centric leader…
Gabby. I should probably take that course.
Mark. Well, you are already at fifth plateau, world-centric leadership…
Gabby. No, I’m plateau one. First life, buddy.
Mark. (laughing) Plateau one is like survival mode. I think you’ve ascended beyond that.
Gabby. I might be there. Some days that reptilian brain is strong, okay?
Mark. For sure. Well, we all get we all get sucked into earlier plateaus.
At any rate, if you’re interested, go check it out. It is world class.
And I’m not saying that from my ego-self. It is really good. Right, Geoff? See, Geoff agrees with me.
All right. Gabby, thanks so much for being here. And tell you what, if you’re watching the video, watch the footage on the training we just did.
Gabby. Yeah, you did great.
Mark. Well thank you.
Gabby. It’s no surprise, but you did great.
Mark. I’m a waterman, but I was still challenged by it. It was very, very rewarding to get in the pool and to work with weights under water. And to have to control the breath. I want to talk more about that, but it was a super-cool experience. Appreciate that.
So we’re in Malibu. And this is your home. Been here for 22 years. You live with this what’s his name? Surfer dude?
Gabby. The last name’s like “Hamil-something.” we actually posted a video of Laird riding this wave the other day and it was really cute it was from Peru, and it was a 4-minute ride. Because they’re on these foils.
But the guy who shot it put Laird “Hamiltom”
Gabby. Yeah so, it’s Laird “Hamiltom.”
Mark. We’ll go with that. It’ll be fun to talk later about life with Laird. I’m sure you’ve had that conversation a lot. So we don’t need to spend much time there.
Gabby. Laird’s interesting.
Mark. He’s an interesting cat. He made me a really nice coffee with all sorts of stuff in it.
Gabby. He does that.
Mark. He said it should fuel me for 24 hours.
Gabby. You’ll be good. Ready to go.
Mark. I’m good to go. But this is about you, and I want to come back to the training and XPT, but that’s like your current incarnation. But let’s talk about you know previous incarnations.
Where did you grow up? Give us a sense of like how you developed your initial version of unbeatable mind that led you to be an elite athlete and to do this some of the cool things you’re doing.
Gabby. I think you’ll hear this a lot from people that fear and that survival mechanism can be a very powerful motivator. For sure and so when I was a young… when I was a young child…
Mark. (laughing) Was born at a very young age. Where were you from, by the way?
Gabby. I was born in California, where I never lived. And when I was two years old – I know it sounds strange – I lived in Mexico City with my mother – my parents were not together. And I got whooping cough, and so I actually ended up living from 2 to 7 with friends of my mother. A couple.
He had just come back from Vietnam. And either they couldn’t or decided not to have children. And so I lived with them in New York and long island for five years.
Mark. Interesting. Did they become like surrogate parents to you?
Gabby. Yes, I called them Aunt Laurette and Uncle Joe. And so… Did my hair in the morning, disciplined me, loved me.
And then when I was seven my mother was getting remarried and my stepfather was from Puerto Rico. And so I moved down to Puerto Rico. And then eventually I really grew up in the Virgin Islands.
And what’s interesting about that for me is my father is from Trinidad. So the whole side of the Reece family is West Indian and Trinidadian. So what was great about growing up in St. Thomas was to have a personal experience with the culture very similar to my father’s. Mark. Interesting. Trinidad is a what? It’s an island country, right?
Gabby. Yeah, Trinidad and Tobago. And it’s a British… All the islands have all the different… Like we were the United States Virgin Islands, we used to visit the British Virgin Islands. Then you have St. Bart’s – which is like Dutch and French on one same island.
Mark. I was curious about that. Are they actually their own country? Or they just they just part of Britain?
Gabby. Correct. And so the language they speak, a lot of their culture and history, and their money and things like that is reflective of the country that’s basically… I don’t want to say occupying…
Mark. Assuring their safety.
Gabby. By occupying. Yes and it literally is sort of really funny, because it could be one island very close to another and they just have completely different sort of country leaders.
And so I grew up there. And then when I was going into my junior year of high school, I didn’t really have a lot of direction… You know, my father died when I was five. My stepfather – who I liked very much and I still know to this day – I actually have a relationship with him. He was very, very kind to me.
But my parents then – my stepfather and my mother broke up when I was about 12 or 13. So at about 15 I think I was heading towards some walls, pretty quickly. And so my mother made the decision to move me to St. Petersburg, Florida my junior year of high school which I was not…
Mark. Were you an athlete by then?
Gabby. I was athletic. I had dibble-dabbled in volleyball. I have a very athletic mother and you sort of lived outside, naturally. So you were moving in a primal way.
You didn’t have a lot of stuff to do. You had two TV channels so I think I would say… But I wasn’t in organized sports so much.
I tried volleyball a little bit in like six, seventh grade and then a little bit again in 10th grade. And then when I moved to St. Pete, I was already six foot three. I went to a very small Christian school so that was also a complete change in culture, coming from the Caribbean. Where like all the adults are free love, out of their mind, partying…
And now I’m in a very strict Christian environment. Very strange
And I started playing volleyball and basketball – and I had a basketball coach at that time actually who had a really incredible impact on me.
I think by nature if I could be honest, I was always a very disciplined person and also not really into self-harming myself. Like not that experimental.
But I was angry. And so I think any rebellion I had was just really out of sort of anger… So I’ve always had kind of natural bumpers, if you will.
And then when I moved to St. Pete, I fought that for a bit and then all of a sudden I just started to soar. I had a really nice boyfriend who came from a very nice family. Completely a different look than what I had seen. And it was just that reminder of like “oh there are people sort of living that way.”
Mark. Yeah there’s a lot of contrast. All of a sudden you saw the gap. Try to close that.
Gabby. Correct. And coaches that said like “hey, you know, you’re talented.”
And then my senior year right and actually the principal of the school… My mom was going to move again… The principal of the school said “no, send Gabrielle here.”
I lived with the principal of the conservative school. Tim Greener and his wife Becky. Because I sort of had an opportunity of a launching pad. It was my senior year, I had just gotten into sports.
And then I ended up pursuing a college career in sports. I was offered scholarships which was if you had said to me in St. Thomas in tenth grade like “you’re gonna go to college” period, I would have been like “why and how?”
And then on top of it getting an athletic scholarship in such a short period of time was a real surprise. And I would say it’s not that I wasn’t prepared, but when I went to college I was 17 and I probably was coachable.
I think if someone said “hey, you’re really athletic.” I don’t know how athletic I am. I know that I’m coachable.
And I think most of my teammates thought I wouldn’t make it there.
Mark. Mm-hmm interesting. Because you lacked the experience.
Gabby. And that’s where I grew up. Experience, it was just all very new to me. So I ended up going to college, playing my first year, starting to model in that summer so I could make my own money.
And then after my second season – my sophomore year – I gave up my scholarship. I paid to play. And my coach at Florida state – Cecile Renaud…
Mark. Why did you give up the scholarship?
Gabby. Because of NCAA ruling, and because I was working in fashion, it was sort of like this calculated risk of I could probably make more money doing that. I was restricted to legal holidays. And so rather than…
Mark. And so they said you couldn’t go model – you couldn’t take another job, basically… Gabby. I could, I just… It was getting touchy. And so rather than deal with that, I just paid to play.
And then one thing led to another. So I was working in fashion, I was playing ball in school. I was improving in volleyball. I had a really great coach who sort of taught me about personal accountability. And I got to travel the world.
And then after I was done playing ball, I realized that fashion… First of all, my size alone created a limitation. Even though I was doing very well. And I was more I felt like inside of me was more of an athlete.
Mark.in fashion you mean?
Gabby. Correct. Yes, it’s like I wasn’t very… I could barely fit into anything and I was not that diverse… And so it sort of taught me…
Mark. Most fashion models are really petite, right?
Gabby. Very. Like, if you’re anywhere near my height you’re at least 25 pounds or 30 pounds lighter than I am sitting here.
Mark. And then they’ll Photoshop any extra weight on you they want.
Gabby. Ya. Whatever it takes right? “This is realistic.”
I can remember seeing pictures of myself being like “that’s really strange.”
Mark. “That’s not my body.”
Gabby. “I don’t think I look like that. Looks good, but I don’t think I look like.”
So there were so many educational moments you know traveling and you imagine you’re 18 by yourself. You’re flying to Egypt. There’s no cell phones – like it’s all that.
And so when I finished college, I wasn’t ready to live in New York full-time anymore. And my career was sort of in a weird place.
And then I picked up the beach game weirdly, in Miami. And then after about a year and a half a woman named Barbara Berman – very lovely woman – who had a real job, said “you should move to California and try to play volleyball for real.”
And because I didn’t know better I was like, “oh, that’s a great idea.” so at 22 I moved out to California and that’s where sort of everything…
Mark. Started to click.
Let me ask you – so a lot of people mean who grow up with a single parent or you know have that kind of like lack of structure and modeling, carry some sort of shadow into their life that ends up being self-sabotaging. Did that happen with you?
Gabby. I think it’s a conversation I probably have with myself each day.
Which is… And I’ve talked about this a lot in the way of being groomed to be whatever a champion is. I don’t mean that in a loose way. I mean… You know what it is? It’s switching it from “oh, I don’t deserve this.” because none of us deserve anything, right?
Mark. That’s the story that’s built in early childhood.
Gabby. Right. We don’t deserve anything. So it’s grace, right? Like it’s allowing yourself the grace that for reasons you don’t understand, you’re given the opportunities. And so the best way you could show that you are deeply grateful, is to do something positive with it.
And it doesn’t mean that you think it’s you. I believe that we’re all sort of portals just taking up space and representing something. And I think as long as you can keep all of that in check and receive it as grace, but I’ll be honest, I probably… I suffered my entire professional athletic career with not knowing really how to handle it. And feeling badly or guilty for getting attention. Or extra opportunity.
So I think that’s one of the shadows that I carried. And even now, I don’t like to be separated or singled out. It doesn’t make me comfortable.
Mark. I have some of that going on, yeah.
Gabby. Well it’s also unnatural, right?
Mark. Well some people just love that. They just want to be the center of attention, right?
Gabby. Doesn’t mean it’s natural, right? There’s something… And I’m not saying it’s bad. So I think there’s a little bit of that…
Mark. That, by the way is a real challenging dance for an influencer, for someone who’s in the spotlight a lot, right? Like you and Laird.
Gabby. (laughing) 30 years of being like, “I don’t like attention.”
Mark. “I don’t want the attention.” but everyone says “you’re gonna get the attention.”
Gabby. I’ll lay one on you, I’m pretty good and I understand that system – that chess board very well – I’ve been playing that chess board since I was 18.
So that’s the other side is being completely forthcoming about “I have played that board. I understand that attention board. Because if I play it here, then all of a sudden it creates opportunity that I get to do these projects or work that I really feel strongly about over on this other side.”
So it’s not only kind of navigating the internal, but it’s also you have to say “oh, yeah, no but I’m participating fully.”
Mark. Right. It’s almost like you do a redirect of that energy into the good work.
Mark. Because there’s a shadow in that cultural energy of wanting to put someone on a pedestal. And what… The graceful way – to use your term – is to just take the energy and spin it around you into the good work. Like an aikido move.
So you’re not rejecting it, you’re just redirecting it.
Gabby. That’s right. And to be honest – like, when you’re at home by yourself – we always say – Laird and I talk about this a lot – if you’re saying to yourself I’m not gonna take the criticisms – except for the people very close to me in my real life – the feedback. I can’t take the glory stuff either.
So when the world is saying “oh you are amazing,” or “you suck,” because they don’t understand the nuance about you. You have to let go of both.
Mark. That’s right.
Gabby. And so I think that that’s been very, very helpful. And it’s always about having people close to you that love and support you. They understand your missions, but also they will tell you “hey, you’re behaving badly.”
But I have that built in, because I live with Laird.
Mark. (laughing) Saw a little bit about that today.
Gabby. Yeah, Laird doesn’t mix words and I always found it interesting, because Laird has gotten obviously a certain level of attention. And he’s a great communicator, and he has certain things about him that are like polished.
And then… But he’s still Laird who grew up in Haena on Kauai with an outhouse. And so sometimes he’ll go surfing and people give him a hard time.
He says that you know violence and stuff the limitation of that. But I always find it fascinating that people don’t realize “okay, yes. That person’s gotten attention.” but understand they still have like output and wattage. And like all these things that sort of got them there. And so they’re not really a wallflower in that way.
So living with him I think has been a really, really natural tethering for myself. And for him. Because there’s always checks and balances. It wouldn’t be like we’ve known each other for 24 years… It’d be like “really? Is that how you are behaving?”
Mark. Are you the serious one in the relationship?
Gabby. What does that mean?
Mark. Well it seems like Laird is very playful. And I see that in you as well, but often times there needs to be a balancing effect.
Gabby. Yeah, I think Laird is definitely more Dennis the Menace. And fun and playful.
And I am more of like the gatekeeper of time and schedules.
Mark. Yes, so that’s where I’m going. So this works because the two of you are together. Like would we have Laird’s superfoods were it not for Gabby Reece?
Gabby. I imagine we would, but it may not be where it is.
Gabby. Like I think I probably or hopefully… I’ve participated, but I think it’s like anything. All of the elements make up the formula. And so I think yeah, I have a sense of Laird and also what Laird needs in that… For example, to confine Laird is not really to use Laird to his fullest potential. To say to him, “okay, we need you to show up for two days. And then go and do your thing.”
Because the magic of Laird is for him…
Mark. It’s when he’s able to do his thing and then to bring that energy back.
Gabby. That’s right. And so we always joke like if he has a project out – let’s say a book or a film or something – and he has to go like a week promoting – the funny thing he’ll be like “yeah, I don’t surf anymore. I just talk about it.”
And you know this. When you get into anything – like if you’re like in the wellness space or self-care – all of a sudden you’re helping everyone else. And you talk about it and you have manuals about it.
But you actually don’t do it yourself anymore.
Gabby. So I mean, just talk to any trainer. They’re at the gym all day. The last thing they want to do is go into the gym.
So I think you’re always sort of calibrating that very fine line of “how do I keep expanding as a person?” and growing and getting new stories. Not the same stories. Because that’s easy to lock into. Like, “that really worked.”
“Okay, that’s cool. But that was like 20 years ago. Just something new.”
And so I think with Laird he naturally really seeks that out. He’s not a person who wants to even talk about stuff from the past. He doesn’t need it. He’s on a quest.
And that’s really helped me in other ways, where it’s like just keep moving forward.
So you said 22 is when you came out to California. And that’s when your professional volleyball career started to take off.
So what was that like? Tell us about beach volleyball? Like I don’t know much about it? I see them playing it on the beach.
It looks rigorous – intense.
Gabby. Try doing it in a bikini.
Mark. (laughing) I wouldn’t want to but I’m sure I could.
Gabby. Just had a vision of you.
Mark. (laughing) Wasn’t a pretty one, right?
Gabby. No you know for me, I have to tell you, that’s when you know the universe is conspiring always for you. Even when it’s not going good it’s like there’s sort of all this design and everything.
I moved out here and I was transitioning from six indoor to doubles. And I was very specialized in college. So four and four beach volleyball opened up right when I came to California. So that meant I could transition and play that game at a high level, pretty quickly.
Mark. Because it wasn’t that different from six?
Gabby. It was close.
Mark. Are the rules different?
Gabby. Here and there. But it’s so close. And so it really fed into my strengths, and then I was I was drafted. I was the first draft pick for a team.
The following year I signed my Nike deal. They bought me a team…
Mark. So were these professional volleyball teams?
Gabby. Yeah. A lot of these girls came from the USA indoor team.
Mark. Okay, and you’re sponsored so there’s a little bit of remuneration of some sort.
Gabby. Yes. So I… You make money, you have prize money and things like that. It’s pretty minimal.
But I signed a deal with Nike. And then they designed a shoe for me. And so that’s really where I made my income from.
And then I was doing a lot of other things – I called this the sort of the song and dance to support my volleyball habit.
Mark. (laughing) Mm-hmm. So you had to be a spokesperson or spokes-model…
Gabby. I was doing television, so really I’d taken all the stuff I had learned from being in fashion, and sort of parlayed it into this other side of my career. And it was also even the game of if you play a sport that’s small, that nobody sees… When you have a commercial or they’re gonna see you out there – that’s what I mean about the chessboard. I would be like “well, who’s going to shoot it?” and “what’s the script?”
So I understood even then, if someone is gonna see me I need to make sure they’re seeing me the right way. Because I’m not TV every week.
So I think a lot of that came into play. And then I played fours for a long time. And then that tour went away.
And then I played doubles, and then I ended up retiring after that.
Mark. Is that an Olympic sport, by any chance?
Gabby. Doubles is.
Mark. Doubles is?
Gabby. Yeah. They couldn’t compete that was part of the problem… It took so long to get beach volleyball into the Olympics that the FIVB, which is the governing federation of volleyball said, “we can’t afford to have fours threatening doubles. Because it took us so long to get doubles in.”
And that made sense to me. My only argument was always “well, you already have indoor volleyball. You could take your indoor stars and make them quickly beach stars. And transition them or use it as a feeder to doubles.”
But it’s a pretty delicate universe of space. And so that’s what happened to that.
Mark. What do you think were the biggest lessons you learned from volleyball? And what were also the biggest challenges for you? And for your whole professional career, which is something that’s unusual for most people.
Gabby. You know, I think my personal challenge again was I was always trying to fit in. I was always trying to make the other athletes understand that I was working… Because I trained very, very hard… I was always a very hard-working athlete. And diligent about my training.
But because I had this sort of other part of my career that kind of isolated me away from a lot of the athletes. I think that was the most challenging. Playing the game, having to concentrate, winning and losing… I mean, I had one season that I don’t think we won a tournament. That was not easy, but I understood that as part of what the sport was.
And I really loved the notion of people getting together and being better together than they could actually be individually. That was something that always turned me on. And maybe secretly it was also family that I didn’t have. So I remember thinking that in high school and in college. It was probably more to do with I’m a part of something.
And also something positive. Like, overall… Yeah, you might bicker and your coach might whatever… But overall, listen, when you’re playing sports it’s good stuff.
And so I think that was really important. And I’ve said this quite a bit, but that lifestyle of training and going to practice and working hard, that really appealed to me, because I thought each day I’m a little uncomfortable. And that feels really honest to me.
And everything else that was kind of fluffy or whatever I was like “okay, at least I know I’m being honest, during parts of the day.”
Mark. Mm-hmm. That’s interesting.
So how old were you roughly when you kind of bailed, or got out of the professional…
Gabby. I was close to 30. And then I went back – they tried to bring fours back at another time – and I certainly kept my fitness up. So I did play a little bit when I was 40 to play fours…
Gabby. Yeah, but my training is as hard as it’s ever been. I just don’t play volleyball.
Mark. It’s cool. People are now pushing the age limits, right? So you can play professional sports in… Look at Brady, right? In your forties now.
If you take care of your body and train.
Gabby. Absolutely. And a sport like volleyball, where you’re not hitting your head, no one’s tackling you. I mean, if you can keep your joints working well – because you’re a jumping athlete…
Mark. So the main injuries are ankle injuries probably?
Gabby. I would say knees and if people have a vulnerability in their shoulder, that’s something they end up contending with their whole career. I never had that.
But shoulder is very hard in volleyball.
Mark. Is it?
Gabby. Yeah, because it’s such a complex joint. And once it’s not working… You use it so much. I mean, that’s your gun. It’s tough.
So I had a knee trip… And yeah, beach volleyball – sand – you’re barefoot and you’re on a soft surface. So what’s happening is two things – your feet are liberated, so you get to use all your mobility in your ankles and your feet, your toes. You’re landing in something soft.
And you’re getting stronger, because you are playing in sand. So sand has some pretty great things to it, for sure.
Mark. So when you left volleyball, did you pick up a different sport? Or do you still play like recreationally or in a master’s league? Or what are you doing now for sport? Do you have a sport that kind of fills that gap?
Gabby. That’s interesting. No. I was playing volleyball after. I played with men. I used to only play with a man I have a friend in Kauai – a gentleman named Compton. I played with him for 20 years.
Because I liked the idea of playing with the men. Because it was so different than playing with women. You know, women were very intense. And we can kibitz about like a line. And then we take that personal. We can hold on to that for like six months kind of thing.
Where with the guys it was like, “oh shut up. Shut up. Okay, next ball,” kind of thing.
So I did play for a long time with them. And I played a bit of golf. Which it doesn’t really suit my personality. I have a lot of respect for golf, but anyway…
So just for me then it was like having kids, businesses… If I had time for my relationship and keep myself fit, I was ahead pretty much…
Mark. Yeah, yeah. That makes sense.
When did you meet Laird?
Gabby. I met Laird in ’95. I was 25 and I went to interview him for a television show on Maui. So I flew from California to Maui.
And I was interviewing quite a few athletes. I was doing like five or six shows during that series. In Hawaii.
And Laird was one of my guests. And as they say – that was it.
Mark. That was that, huh?
Gabby. Yeah, that was that. That’s all she wrote.
I think we lived together eight days later.
Mark. (laughing) Is that right? Holy cow, that’s quick.
And how quickly did the kids decide to show up in your life?
Gabby. Well Laird arrived with a four-month-old.
Gabby. So I have co-parented for my daughter Bella and her mom Maria, who was always very generous. I mean listen, it was turbulent for a couple years, as it should be… As you would expect it to be. And then that worked out.
And then when I was 33, I had our first daughter. And then my third daughter – or second biological daughter – Brodie, my youngest was born. She’s 11.
So, yeah. Three girls.
Mark. And how is that for you? Being a mother? Like what was the biggest transformation for you?
Gabby. Surrendering. I think when I… You know, because of the way I grew up never knowing, I was always trying to control my environment. And then you have a small child and you sort of can control them in a way. I mean, obviously, they’re gonna cry and whatever… But it’s like “oh we’re gonna move you over here and you’re gonna wear that outfit.”
And then they start becoming their own individual self. And I think first of all I had hang ups if I could be nurturing enough to be a mother – a good mother. And then because of my own insecurities about the dynamic with my mother, I thought “oh, I don’t want to look down the barrel of somebody who is pissed at me.”
Because I know my dynamic with my mom… You know, it kind of blew up when I was a kid. And we never really recaptured that.
Gabby. And that’s a long time. And as much as it might be a little bit hard on me, I’ve made peace with it. I think it must be very hard on her. So if you flipped it and said “I’m the mom.” I was like, “I don’t ever want to be in that position. I don’t want to be the one that…”
Like there’s actually not much… Some things you just don’t kind of get back. And so I think I went into parenting with sort of all these like “oh, I hope I can do it.”
And I loved having babies. I loved nursing. It was all these things that were new and weird to me, that I didn’t think I would enjoy.
And then your daughter’s turn into teenagers, and this is where the real growth happens. Because this is where you think “oh, I have to surrender.”
They’re going to be different than I would have thought. Or they’re going to make different choices than I would have made for them. They are going to go through things that I don’t want them to have to go through. And they will.
And just, we’re gonna do it differently. And so, I think that that has been the biggest growth because you have a moment in parenting where you go “well this is how I do it.”
Or you say “I’m gonna take a look at that.” and the tools that got me through a difficult childhood and even worked with like maybe two my daughters – didn’t work very well for one of my daughters. Who at 13 decided she was gonna let me know, right? Like, “hey, that way that you are, is completely the worst for me?” pretty much.
Mark. (laughing) What a blessing though to have her say that. As opposed to like repress it…
Gabby. Or 30 years old at thanksgiving and too many glasses of wine. I don’t know, I joke…
Mark. That’s the way it came out in my family, right?
Gabby. Are you Irish? No, just kidding.
Mark. Well probably. -ish. More Viking-ish.
Gabby. Like “suck it up, man.” and then a couple drinks in “you know when I was 10…”
So it does… You have to look at that good side. But I think I have learned more in the last two years, literally, as a person… As far as like “oh yeah, this is uncomfortable.”
Because it was one thing for me to go through discomfort as a young person. That was inflicted upon me.
But to participate as the parent and supposedly the adult…
Mark. Yeah, in mutual discomfort.
Gabby. Yeah, it’s like… Because, you know what it is? You’re trying to do the right thing. As the parent like I’m just trying to do the right thing. And the best thing whatever that means. That’s like weird, how do you define that? And then sometimes when you miss the mark – like, I don’t know Monday through Sunday – you’re like “oh god. This is like so hard. And it’s so important. And I really want to get it right.” and maybe there’s just no way to get it right.
Mark. Right. That’s where the surrender comes. I love that term for this. For parenting.
I don’t love that term as a navy seal, in general, but when it comes to parenting I definitely had to wave the white flag with my son.
Gabby. It’s hard, because a son to a father, right?
Mark. It was very difficult, and you said something profound – you try to do the right thing. The problem is they don’t want you to do anything to them. They just want you to be authentic with them. And be there for them.
And so I stopped trying to do with my son and just started to be there with him. Like he’s working on his car, I’ll just go out and hang out with him. Like, I don’t even know how to turn a wrench, barely. It’s kind of sad. My father never taught me that.
So if I just go out and hang out with my son Devon and say “hey, can I help you out?” he’s like “dad, I don’t want you to break anything.”
I’m like, “all right.” but I’ll just hang out with him for a while. And it’s really precious time. We just chill together. And I’m not doing anything anymore.
Gabby. Them feeling like you’re taking interest in who they are, the way that they are.
The problem is too is like you’re a very defined person, with a defined resume. And like “oh, you’re a tough guy.”
And so for a son that’s a lot of pressure, right?
Mark. It is. Right. And he never articulates that to me directly, but I hear it through his friends.
Gabby. Yeah. “Oh, you gonna be like your dad? Are you gonna go do the thing…?” and on and on.
So secretly I was so glad we had only daughters, because I thought to be Laird’s son would be tricky. But what I didn’t know – that I know now today, that someone pointed out to me – the joke is if Laird and I sort of did anything in life – whatever the bar – we were gonna be successful.
Because we didn’t have a bar set. Neither one of us.
Mark. And then the kids have this bar that they think…
Gabby. Right. And we thought the bar was like “isn’t it great? We can give you opportunity. We can give you good healthy food. We can create a clean environment for you.”
And that’s how we look at living life. Not like “well, I accomplished this. And here’s my set of accomplishments… For us that’s outside the gate. It’s all nonsense.
And we were just like “oh, it’s what’s happening in the house.” but what we didn’t realize -and some of our daughters are more vulnerable to it than the others – it’s like what the world is saying…
Mark. Right. The social pressure…
Gabby. So what are you gonna do? And we’re sitting there like “here’s your oatmeal, honey.” and you know what? “Just whatever you do, do something that you really like. And work hard.”
Like we thought that message was getting through, right? And you think that you’re the one controlling that message. Like, “well if I say it to you, then it really counts.
And so I actually had a therapist say to me “can you acknowledge that this child of yours is having to navigate something that you never had to?”
Mark. It’s out of your control…
Gabby. And I was like “oh you know what…” because we thought safety, opportunity, all these things like “we’re good.” and then it’s like well, some of your psycho-discipline, and striving, and grinding and you go places and they’re like “oh Laird,” or whatever… That can mess with your kids.
And it could be like a CEO of a company and it’s like Joe’s successful and sometimes that is hard on the kids.
Mark. Yeah. That is interesting. It’s played out in our son and he has difficulty challenging himself, because he’s afraid to fail. Because he’s got this sense where he’s already measuring. He doesn’t want to let me down. It’s so subtle and psychological. It’s very invisible to him.
Gabby. And I think it’s in all the dynamics, right? And weirdly as parents I feel like if we can somehow get to someplace where we’re like “hey, I can make peace with this. Or I can surrender this and I can keep flowing with it.”
I feel like we can help them get through that as easy as it could possibly happen. But it is… Oh my goodness…
I did the opposite right? Like I’m gonna be right here, I’m gonna be the rock of Gibraltar and my one of my daughters said to me one time and it really – and you could understand this – “certain things that are really easy for you, are not that easy for me, right?” and I was like “okay.”
And trying to get them to understand the expectation is not that you’re me, or that you do it the way I do it.
Mark. Right. I love that. Kids, I mean they’re all so different. And they really come through us or to us. But to think they are like us is a big mistake.
Gabby. And also that there might be some pain and suffering. And that’s the hardest thing like “oh, you’re gonna have some stuff to deal with?”
So I think if you said to me of all the things – the parenting because it’s so precious… That has been very rich and I have doubted myself almost every step of the way. And then occasionally you know one time Laird said to me “you know, you’re there and you love them.” and sometimes when you’re just sort of really circling the drain a bit on it I think it’s important to go “okay. Have I been loving? Have I been showing up?”
You know then you start doing this like “oh, I didn’t play enough on the ground with them when they were young. I didn’t read enough…” like you start doing all that weird stuff. And I think all that’s probably pretty normal.
Mark. I think so, too. And I think that everyone does the best they can in the moment and ultimately that’s all we have. Is the moment.
So yeah. I think parenting and learning through that together with your kids is a profound experience.
Gabby. It is.
Mark. So, well done. My son is adopted.
Gabby. That’s even one layer…
Mark. He was born in Maui. Maui general. So he’s 25 percent Hawaiian.
Mark. Yeah, that’s cool huh?
Gabby. That’s even one layer more interesting. But in some ways you wouldn’t – in your DNA – you wouldn’t trigger each other in certain ways. Like I have different flow with my oldest stepdaughter, because we’re not actually genetically linked. So there’s certain things like we don’t tweak each the same way.
Mark. For sure cause the epigenetics and the family epigenetics didn’t pass down. The cultural boo – whatever we call it. That’s pretty interesting.
That’s why when like when I was – I’ve said this before on a podcast, I love talking about my son, he’s amazing. 19 right now. Yeah, I didn’t… You know I’ve been martial artist for my entire life and I did Kempo with him some Shaolin Kempo.
So usually they have really good kids programs. And this one instructor was really into kids.
And so I decided to train with him. What a great experience. We trained all the way up to our brown belt test.
Mark. But my son fastidiously avoided any sparring. He wouldn’t clash with another human being. He would do all the katas and we do all this self-defense techniques. And then sensei said “okay, for your brown belt test, Devon, you have to spar.”
And he wouldn’t get out of the car. And he looked at me and said “dad, I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to clash with another human being.”
I said, “Well, you’re a lover, not a fighter then.”
He goes “yes sir. I am.”
I said, “Alright. I’m good with that. We’re done.” we hung up our karate Gi’s and that was it for him.
Gabby. You know, Laird said something similar. When he was younger he didn’t train in martial arts because he felt like it was breeding the aggressive side of him.
Mark. They can, yeah.
Gabby. And he’s like “I knew that wasn’t gonna be good for me.”
Mark. That’s interesting. I was always on uncomfortable… I’m very grateful that I was a seal, but I’m also grateful that I didn’t have to take a human life. You know, my career just was that way. I was meant to be a trainer.
And now I study aikido. Which is the art of peace. And it’s much more suitable for me.
One thing I wanted to ask you about is do you engage your daughters in the training? It sounds like you did from this morning.
So how did that work out? Like with your XPT training and now you’re bringing people in? Are they involved in the training? Are excited about it or is it…?
Gabby. Oh no. Their parents do it. What are you kidding? These lunatics… I think it’s like any relationship with a kid, it’s an open invitation.
So if someone’s in the pool that they really like or they want to show off to, they’ll come in. And they can do all the moves, because they’ve been around it their whole lives.
Mark. And do they learn them by just watching you or did Laird and you show them…?
Gabby. They’ve heard all the coaching and everything else. So no, they’re genius. They can teach any of that. It’s intuitive, right?
We had to learn it through trial and error. They just have grown up with it. So they both can do any of the stuff – and all three of them for that matter. So it’s always an invitation. And I’m your mom not your coach. And that’s that is a real thing.
Like I struggle – I’m so not a soccer mom that sometimes I’m like “oh, I think I should push them harder.” but because I know what it takes to do a sport for real, that if you don’t naturally think you want to do it yourself, I actually don’t know that pushing is the way. I’m not sure. The verdict’s still out.
I see talent. Like my youngest daughter is so athletic and I’m just like “you should play volleyball or whatever.” and she’s just like “huh?”
Mark. Yeah. I don’t know, because you could really burn someone out.
Gabby. And also what is success? That’s the thing. As a parent I’m trying to raise people who can speak their mind, understand their feelings, have relationships…
Mark. And chart their own path. So if you channel them into a sport and they put all this energy into this sport, and then they succeed – what’s that at the expense of?
Mark. It might be something that they were meant to do.
Gabby. And that’s where I’m trying to have restraint. And Laird as well. He’s very good at restraining himself that way. And also like Laird’s relationship with surfing is Laird’s personal relationship with surfing.
I played volleyball, because I wanted to play volleyball. My mother it was all she could do not to say like almost ask me what sport I was going to college for on a scholarship. Like “oh that’s nice dear.” you’re like “okay.”
So I think it’s that. But then every once in a while you go “hey, well do they need more structure at the time? They’re kind of loosey-goosey.”
So those are things…
Mark. Do they like to surf your daughters?
Gabby. They like the water. Actually, my youngest daughter weirdly likes to surf, even though she’ll never admit it. And she’s a great surfer. The girls all have a very deep relationship with the water.
Mark. This just popped in my head but when Laird goes out and it’s like a big day, do you sit home and worry?
Gabby. Well, I don’t because… Well a lot of times they’re out at sea.
Mark. You can’t see them from the shore.
Gabby. And they go for like six, seven hours, these guys. They’re like ever-ready. I don’t know how they do it. Thank god they need lunch or run out of fuel.
But I think with Laird – and you met Laird briefly – I would imagine it’s not different than the really serious guys in the military – Laird is very serious about his preparation.
He’s not foolhardy. His output and his training is so consistent. And it’s all out of respect for understanding that you’re doing something that is very dangerous.
And so it’s not that I haven’t – there’s been a couple times where I’ll get him like because they go out at dark, and I’ll say “I had some really heavy feelings. I need you to just be extra alert.”
But I always used to say to live with Laird and him not to do it would be far more dangerous. Than to live with what Laird goes out doing. Because he would not be himself. And the house would be brought down, for sure.
So I think this is somebody in a mission. That you support them, and the fact of the way that they do the mission. There is so much thought and diligence and commitment to the preparation that I’m like “hey, I respect every way that you handle it.”
Mark. Yeah, that came through loud and clear when I did the podcast with Laird. Just how much time and how methodical he was in both his training and also preparation for a big attempt or whatever you call it when you go out and attack a set like that.
Gabby. Yeah, Laird’s not trying to actually prove anything to anyone.
Mark. Yeah, right. That’s cool. I love that. That mindset gives him a lot of freedom.
Gabby. It does. That’s a great point. He used to talk about surfing competition, he goes “listen, if you rode a wave the way you were gonna ride it based on what the wave was telling you – that might be different than if you were competing.”
Mark. To win the competition.
Gabby. Correct. And so that’s why I think part of why he has never done it that way.
Mark. He never competed. Terrific.
What does your training plan look like today? Well I do a land kind of HIIT circuit Monday, Wednesday and Friday. When I was on Kauai, I taught a class for $1 for about 80 people.
Mark. And you lived there part of the year, and then you’re here in Malibu part of the year.
Gabby. Yeah. I’m here six months and then I do it with a group of friends here. And then Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, I’ll do about a 90-minute pool workout. And do heat and ice…
Mark. And the heat and ice – as we talked about earlier – is really for recovery. And also to give you a little pause between HIIT sessions maybe?
Gabby. Yeah and there’s something to… In recovery, the king is probably the heat. The more we get into the science…
Mark. What’s the quick physiology behind that?
Gabby. Well, just on every level the health benefits… So you know all cause mortality goes down, Alzheimer’s – especially for men – goes down quite a bit. Heat shock proteins… So there’s all these sort of things in recovery or prevention that they have real hard science on with the heat.
Mark. Does it matter what kind of heat? Natural heat or infrared?
Gabby. It’s touchy because all the infrareds will say “oh there’s some other deep level stuff that’s very good for you.”
However then there’s stuff where they say “oh, well maybe it’s not good for the retinas.” and that maybe the collagen of the skin of the tissue isn’t good.
Mark. There is not enough proof.
Gabby. So I don’t like to say either. So that’s why we just go straight hot. Laird goes pretty hot, he goes usually around 220. And they even have protocols. Like dr. Rhonda Patrick has these protocols like okay – 15 minutes in, 30 minutes out, 15 minutes in. There’s ways to boost your testosterone things like that.
And then the ice is you know just the fact that you put yourself in a situation you don’t want to be in…
Mark. Sure. Getting comfortable being uncomfortable.
Gabby. I think that practice is good.
Mark. We use ice quite a bit.
Gabby. And nobody goes “oh, yaah, ice.”
Mark. “Yaah, I get to jump in the ice.”
Gabby. And I just go “you’re so full of it.”
And then you know you have thermo-regulating and overall inflammation and that’s what….
Mark. So the two of those together are money, right? So if you just do heat or you just do ice, its beneficial. But to do them together…
Gabby. Absolutely. And never do ice in the middle of your training. Or right after hard training.
Mark. Cause the blood flow is going to really constrict. Gabby. You just defeat some of your purpose. So I always say to people space that out.
Mark. So you do heat before to warm you up. Limber. Train, train, train. Heat, ice. Something like that.
Gabby. Yep. That’s usually how I do it. Laird starts ice, nothing – three minutes. Then he might go heat. Then he’ll go train, train, train. And then maybe do it another way.
But he always goes likes to like, “nobody wants to do that? Great. Let’s do that.”
Mark. (laughing) Exactly.
Gabby. Yeah, so my training has also I don’t want to say changed, but I’ve had to really look at it. Because you’re in your 20s, you’re going for performance, you’re in your 30s you’re still talking about performance and then you start going “okay how do I use this training to move how I’d like to move for as long as I…
Mark. It’s like about longevity now…
Gabby. And walking around, but still push myself so that I get that growth as a being. And then also be willing to try things that I’m not particularly good at. So I try to work on that a little bit.
And that’s usually the stretching and things like that.
Mark. Yeah and I think that what I love about what we did today is it’s the same kind of experience I have when I get on the aikido mat. And I’m like flying through the air and spinning and turning.
It’s like I know my brain is just going “pop.” because I’m getting really confused. And I’m going like “wow. I suck at this.”
And that’s not negative dialogue. I’m thinking now “wow, I’ve got a lot to learn here.” and so I can just feel the expansion, neuroplastic effect of all that.
So trying new things and training in different environments, different domains all the time is really growthful.
And not just growth of your confidence, right? Literally, it’s expanding your mind power.
Gabby. That’s right, that’s right. And Laird is a great reminder. He always says “you know, there’s only one first day.”
I’m like “okay.” I’m more held back and he’s like “check that out you know and so I always say I’ve drafted off of him a lot of years. Like sometimes I go “okay, he does that better. I’ll tuck in behind.” and sort of try.
Mark. In addition to your training regimen, which is varied and unique – you guys are pretty strict with – not strict, but innovative I would say more? With your nutrition and your fueling? So what does that look like generally?
Gabby. Well for me I’m you know, we always say plants and animals. Pretty much. We try to really be careful about the sugar. Because that’s the one that gets ya.
And Laird is more strict, you know? I think I’m probably seeking more pleasure experiential out of my food.
But even still I’d say 85% of the time it’s the wildest meat I can find. And some kind of vegetables. And a lot of different colors of vegetables.
And then I’m not afraid of carbohydrates.
Mark. Neither am I. But you enjoy the flavor.
Gabby. It’s a must.
Mark. And does Laird enjoy food? Is he a foodie? Or would he be satisfied with coffee and just give him something to sustain himself?
Gabby. I think overall food is fuel for him. But I think one thing I have learned living with him is when you present him with a meal that the fuel part is covered and checked off mark. Yeah but it’s also delicious…
Gabby. Enjoyment goes way up. So it’s like sort of checking that box first, and then doing this and that so that the enjoyment, the flavors, the spices and things like that.
Mark. And to cook like that. What’s the most challenging aspect for you? It’s in the procurement of the right ingredients and the food, right?
Gabby. Yeah. It’s like if I have to go into a grocery store one more time. And then you know preparation and things like that – I mean every person who makes dinner – the joke is that at one o’clock in the afternoon everyone’s sitting around going “oh my god what am I gonna make for dinner tonight?” like that is like the ongoing…
Mark. I heard the other day gabby that the average person has to make 400 decisions about food in a day. Or does. They don’t have to – they do
And I’m thinking about that. I’m like, “that’s not me.” I have my coffee and ample in the morning. And then if I get to eat another meal, it’s gonna be like a salad dish with some protein.
Gabby. But who…? Does your wife prepare dinner for you? M
Mark. About twice a week.
Gabby. Okay. Yeah. I’m waiting for my kids to move out and then I said to Laird, “that might be the time…”
Mark. She used to cook a lot more, but we just don’t… We enjoy food, but we don’t go overboard with it, right?
Gabby. Yeah. And we listen we’ve traveled around…
Mark. You don’t make 400 choices a day, let’s put it that way.
Gabby. Right. Well, I think we just keep it simple that way. I mean there’s just certain things that are just not on the radar, right? And Laird always says “hey…” and I believe in this… It’s not about what you can’t eat, it’s about what you can eat. And there’s a lot of foods that you can eat.
So I try to get creative in that. And that is one thing great about technology, which is like… It’s all there. I can find it all if I get bored of my own recipes. I just go there.
My rules are it doesn’t usually take me longer than 30 minutes to prep any meal. If it’s something special I’m doing, then yes – it might be an hour. And I can’t… Like my worst thing when I started cooking many years ago was like you’d spend all this time prepping and then everyone ate everything in eight minutes. And I somehow would get frustrated. So I sort of balance that out.
But just… And not being afraid to be experimental and try new things with different vegetables. And do different things.
And ask. If I go to a restaurant and something’s really good, I will ask every time like what they did. Because that’s how you learn. And most times they know you’re not opening up a restaurant down the street. They’ll tell you.
Mark. Right. What about fasting? Do you guys intermittent fast, or do any kind of longer fast?
Gabby. We do. Laird does… I do you know, unless my workload is really heavy-duty or depending where I am in my cycle of hormones. I usually eat you know a very large dinner and have the kind of fat-bomb coffee in the morning. But then let’s say I have more stress or I’m training, I might have a giant lunch and a very small dinner.
And then every once in a while just try to go once. But yeah, I feel good that way. Because I just feel like it’s like a reset. And I even feel the inflammation… Just from taking a break from food a little bit. Just that inflammation… Besides all the other health benefits… But yeah, you start to realize like how much food you don’t need.
And that’s the thing is like if I open up the floodgates of food or snacking, I’m just doing that to do it. And so sometimes just a little bit “I’m gonna keep in check.”
Mark. So you don’t track caloric intake.
Gabby. No. I feel like when you’re when – and I have plenty of friends that use the scale and do all this stuff. And they’re wearing all these metrics and all these things. But for me personally – again I’ve been doing this so long and I intend to do it so much longer – I have to make it a real part of my everyday life. And I should understand what’s happening.
Mark. Right. Your body will tell you when it needs some sustenance.
Gabby. Right. Like am I full? Am I almost full? Am I hungry? Have I eaten too much?
Things like that and so we always say based on how am I sleeping? How’s my energy? How do I look? Look in the mirror – because I can tell and I’m like “oh, there’s inflammation.” and even when you sit down and bend your knees and go like that – you go “oh, okay.”
So I think it’s also about always trying to be in touch with yourself. For me, with this idea of self-awareness and self-care, then I don’t need something telling me how I’m feeling. I need to understand that for myself.
Mark. That’s funny, because my I had one of those Garmin Phoenix or something like that. And I never used it. And I couldn’t even figure out how to like use the stopwatch or anything.
So when the band broke I just set it aside. Also, I couldn’t stand always having to charge it up. But so then I was out a watch.
Gabby. But certain people like the gaming, though.
Mark. Some people love it, I know.
Gabby. They love to measure, and my thing is if that’s what gets you turned on and keeps you going, do it. For me personally, I have so many other things going on in my mind that I want to see if I can stay connected.
Mark. Right, that’s kind of the point I was gonna make. Is just the drag coefficient on your decision power. If you’re gonna be quantifying every little detail about your heart rate and your fuel intake… I mean there’s a significant drag on your decision-time.
Back to those 400 choices a day. Like, if you’re going to make – let’s say we have a finite quantity of good choices before our willpower is shot and our energy is shot. You want to be very, very specific about what you’re focusing those choices on.
Gabby. Yeah. And for me it’s the human stuff, quite frankly. I mean like okay if you’re going to battle that’s something else.
But for me it’s like my interpersonal relationships and how I can manage myself within those. My words…
Mark. That’s right. Emotional-mental management. Quality of communication. Presence.
And each one of those requires a decision.
Gabby. Yes and I find them to be the hardest. I could go train till the cows come home. I could not eat anything or eat something. I can do business calls, whatever…
It’s trying to keep drilling down and honing in on myself just as a person. And how I’m dealing with my partners, my friends, managing my thoughts… All of these things that scare me a lot more than training. Because then you have to be brutally honest with yourself. And say like “oh ya. No, you’re acting like that, because you’re deathly afraid.” or “your ego’s taken over and you got to get some control of that.”
So I think for me a lot of my time is spent saying “okay, me as an organism, as a human being… How’s that going?”
Mark. Yeah, right. Do you have a meditation practice?
Gabby. I do. A little bit. You know, it depends on the day. If there’s time for it, I’ll do it. But what I have learned to do for a very long time is active meditation. If I’m in a car and there’s no one there, I turn the music off and I sort of check-in.
Mark. Well, that’s the way it is meant to be done, right? But the reason you have to sit is because people can’t do it while they’re walking and having a conversation. But ultimately, it’s meant to be taken off the bench. And it becomes part of your daily being.
So you’re already there. Good job.
Gabby. Yeah, I don’t know about that, but I think you move through performance and you like “oh yeah, I can kick ass,” and all these things. And you get through all that – I would imagine you have the same thing having been in the seals – and then all of sudden you go, “oh yeah, the hardest thing. I still have to contend with myself.”
Mark. That’s right.
Gabby. And people can be like “oh, that’s so great and that’s so great.” and you go “uh-huh. Sure. Let me give you the list of things that I know when I’m really being honest with myself that I’m just gonna keep trying to work on.
Mark. Yeah, always got more work to do.
Mark. Yeah. What does XPT stand for?
Gabby. Well it was “extreme performance training.” and the notion behind that was getting people wherever they are to perform at their optimal place. So whether…
Mark. For any demand. So I could see a lot of military operators are coming to the training. Elite athletes, endurance athletes.
Gabby. For anybody. And even if it’s like “hi, I decided to stay at home. Mom. And I’ve got three kids…”
Mark. “And a pool in my backyard.”
Gabby. Yeah, like why not? They got three feet of water somewhere right? This idea of life is demanding for all of us. And so how do we get you to optimize? And let’s have conversations of what those pillars look like. So breathe, movement, recover… Because the whole thing with breathing obviously the essence of life…
Movement. Part of being an organism.
But then recovery. And not like “oh well, do you have a recovery practice?” “Yeah, I take off on Wednesdays?”
No, like participating in the recovery. And so that was another pillar that was really important. And then within that we discuss food and performance and things like that. And the idea too behind XPT, is it’s just really a small sliver of our lifestyle. That we tried to put a little bit into a box to share with other people.
But the idea too would be like what we know right now… Chances are and hopefully it might be different in 14 months or 16 months or what-have-you. And we’re gonna go with that, right?
Mark. Right. It’s a living program. Yeah I did that with SEALfit. We tried to put it in a box and it’s impossible. I don’t want to constrain it.
Gabby. Cause it’s not honest.
Mark. It’s not. It’s always evolving like a Borg. Best practices get absorbed and what doesn’t work, or is old or stale, it gets spit out.
Gabby. Yeah and so I think – and Laird definitely lives by that – and so that’s the hope with XPT. And we have ranges of… We have teenagers to 70 year-olds coming.
And our philosophy is also the same with food. If young children and grandparents can’t do it, versions of it, then it’s no probably real.
Mark. It’s not sustainable.
So do you have the program developed enough where you can run it in other locations or do you bring everyone here?
Gabby. No, we run it in other cities all the time. And other locations. And we even have administered it to other groups – so for example, we have had inquiries on some military groups to do this.
So it’s organized enough too, that we can sort of peel out parts that would benefit certain groups. And then also say “okay, well how deep do you want to go with it?” or “how hard do you want to make it?” and there’s a lot of freedom there.
Mark. That’s great. Yeah, that’s interesting, that’s the way we build our unbeatable mind training. We call them little Lego blocks.
So we’ll take this Lego block from the SEALfit crucible, we’ll take this little block from our performance training and then we just put them all together based upon the needs of the organization.
Gabby. Yeah and I think that’s true to life.
Mark. And their willingness to accept discomfort. Which sometimes they don’t know and they tell us “oh, we don’t have these people ready for the challenge.”
We say “okay, fine.” and then we cook them like a frog. They don’t recognize what’s happening until they’re done. Going “oh my god, that was awesome! We really worked hard.” I’m like, “you did work hard. But you never would have worked hard if we had just given you the softball, you know?”
Gabby. No, it’s one step and then another.
Mark. Right, the crawl-walk-run. Pretty soon they’re doing things that they never thought possible.
Gabby. And I find that very inspiring for me, is to be around all of these people and some professional athletes, and to watch them perform and learn – as you know because you do this whole time – I think in that exchange has been…
Mark. It’s magical.
Gabby. It is it’s really been something that I feel is a gift. Laird and I talk about it. Because these experiences take a lot of energy, but it is a get such a gift back to us.
Mark. Mm-hmm. If you were to try to summarize your vision for your future and I guess the future… Because your future is tied to Laird and XPT and your family… What does that look like? What’s the future look like 10, 15, 20 years out?
Gabby. I think I have done so much always through like I’ve almost used work as like an anchor to all the things. And now I sort of parallel path that with my family.
So, you know, all my daughters will be grown – my oldest is already grown – by that time. My hope is that there is a real… Like a full relationship, by their choice. You know, your hope is… I’ve always told my girls, “listen it will be your choice to come back at Christmas. You don’t owe us anything. You’re not obliged.”
There’s only one relationship in the world that’s one way, and it’s a parent to a child. I always say to people “listen, even a friendship any relationship – ask what do I get from it?” even if it’s the way you live and work inspires me. Now I’m clear what I’m getting from it.
And with my children I’ve understood and I want them to understand, you don’t owe me anything. So the hope is that there is like a real relationship. And maybe – and this could be unrealistic or like me being you know like “yeah, dream on,” – that they understand something about me that they don’t understand now. Like, why I do things or the way that we do things.
Because then the hope would be that that’s part of a life well-lived. Is if we can go through all of those things and still reach a place where we have that relationship.
Obviously, I hope Laird and I are still together. We joke it’s like so you know… For me personally I just go “hey, it’s one each day.” And what’s interesting is like we’ve been together a long time. Now we’re about to move into another phase of the type of relationship…
Mark. When the kids go, you mean…
Gabby. Yeah, when the kids go. And it’s also like – okay if you’ve been having sex with the same person for 20-something years – just to like be totally straight up – it’s like… I always say like “is there an expiration on couples?” like, after 40,000 times of having sex, they go “you know what? We’re good. I love you. Bye.” whatever.
Mark. (laughing) You could try some more ice cream.
Gabby. Some couples it’s 3, some couples it’s 5,000. Some it’s 200 – I don’t know. And so the hope is that Laird and I continue to grow individually. And also together.
Like I would hope that we can weather this next, you know… Because there’s even like a physiological… Like I won’t be able to procreate, so is Laird like “well, my job’s done.”
Like I don’t know. Like I’m just open to all of that.
And then on a business sort of level between Laird superfood and XPT, we have a lot of interesting things. But it would be cool if I always enjoy that people will say “hey, you know, I tried this or that because of you guys, and it really helped me.”
But I often think what I have learned is that you do what you do. And then you let it ride however it rides. And so I’ve learned that more and more.
Each day you wake up, you do your very best. You have a sense of what you’re trying to do, because it’s important to know where you’re trying to go.
But you don’t try to control – this goes back to even surrender of what that’s gonna look like.
Mark. That’s been difficult for me with the corporate structure, strategy… You know, the whole business side. Because there are certain ways that people say it works and there’s ways that it doesn’t work. And if you just let it go, who knows where you end up.
Gabby. Well, that’s when you have a smart team with you, right? Like, so for example in Laird superfood our CEO, our CFO, our chairman of the board – these are really smart people.
Mark. I need all three of those by the way.
Gabby. I’m telling you. This is everything.
Mark. (laughing) Cause I’m CEO, chairman of the board and CFO.
Gabby. It’s tricky. It is tricky though.
Mark. How could Laird bring in a CEO? That’s got to be so tricky.
Gabby. Well, okay. I mean these are the gods again. But the CEO is a co-founder with Laird. And that business did weirdly well so early – we’ve had failures – I can show you…
Mark. Sure. That wouldn’t be normal without it.
Gabby. Right. Like I can show you the rest in peace wall. With the ones like “oh that was…” “Remember how much we spent on that?” “Remember how much time we spend on that?” like, what were we thinking?
So we’ve got lots of those.
And that’s also when you know like you have a little fairy dust. So we have this group of people that say, “okay, I’m gonna stay true and focus on the things that I know I’m good at.
And also I’m going to keep learning. Like for me, on business, I have learned so much being in business. But I think that that is a big secret.
Mark. Mm-hmm. Trust other people to help.
Gabby. Yes. And also trusting your gut. Because there might be someone who can help you, and something in you is “god, it’d be so nice to get their help. But I don’t know if they’re right.”
And sometimes you learn that the hard way.
Mark. Yeah, I’ve had a few of those.
Gabby. Of course. So I think it’s accepting quickly, learning how also to pull out – like “okay, yeah, this is not working.” not getting attached to things in a way where you can’t let it go. Like we think it’s a good idea, so it’s a good idea. Well, now let’s look objectively – is this still a good idea?
So I’ve learned that to. Not to be attached like, you know, “well this is my baby.” well, yeah no. Let go of that. In business, definitely.
And if you’re wrong, you’re wrong. Like if you think you’re really right like we go through this with packaging at Laird’s superfood, right? And I’ll be like “yeah, I think you guys are crazy.”
And then if the numbers go up, I have to be willing to send out a mass email and go “you know what? I’m wrong.”
Yeah, so I think it’s all of that. You’re learning how to be like “what is the angle? And how do we do that?”
Mark. Yeah. Business is a great petri dish for growth, isn’t it? Because everything’s there. You have all sorts of personalities, all different levels of development. And you have to navigate that every day when you show up.
Gabby. One thing I have learned from my CEO at Laird’s superfood – better than anyone -I’ve understood it’s very important, the most in any of the businesses, is your corporate culture…
Mark. Yeah, culture is everything these days.
Gabby. Yeah. I didn’t realize how important that was. Like, okay, for example I had an interview with the head of HR for Laird’s superfood. And we were discussing. And she goes “well okay, let’s talk about this. Does everyone have to be super in shape to work for Laird’s superfood?” I said, “No. They have to have a real practice for self-care because it’s about vitality.” and I go “so, if you have somebody who comes in and we say ‘hey here at Laird’s superfood there’s a practice… Having a real regular practice for self-care.’ we’re not even gonna tell you what that is.
Mark. Doesn’t matter what it is. Could be yoga, could be walking on the beach…
Gabby. That’s right. That’s what’s important to us. And so I think it’s like even all of these little nuances that you start to flesh out.
Because he talked about he’s like “I’ve seen companies that could be so successful and do something. And the internal culture… And they unwind from the inside. They implode. So I think that that’s been important.
So how do you have long-term plans and still say “okay, I’m gonna be in the moment as much as I can. And keep asking myself ‘who am I? And who do I really want to be.’ but not who do I feel like I am in this very moment, when I want to snap everyone’s head off.”
Who am I really trying to be?
And also, every time these adverse moments come up and you guys have this all the time… This is the moment to show who you are. This is the moment to put into practice all the BS that you’ve been talking about. Here it is. And that’s been a big one.
Mark. That’s awesome. We’ve got to wrap this up, so if someone’s listening and they’re like super inspired about the training, what would be the place to start?
Gabby. Xptlife.com. And there’s all kinds of things… Like you could just go to a breathing workshop with one of our trainers. So if someone’s like “hey, I want to learn more about breathing.” If they want to take two and half days out of your life – I know it’s a huge commitment both time and financially – they can come to an XPT experience.
But now we’re trying to make it so that other people can get a hold of it.
I know eventually they’ll actually probably even try to do sort of centers where you could go and do heat nice and things like that. And mobility.
And we will even have a breathing app, so we’ll guide you through certain modalities so whether to upregulate or down regulate you, before bed or ready for a big meeting. We’ve got a ton of those programs
Mark. Nice and for Laird’s superfood, just going to lazy acres or whole foods and grab some.
Gabby. Yeah, Laird’s superfood itself – .com has free shipping. So they can either get it there, on amazon and yeah I mean there’s a lot of really exciting products.
Mark. Most of that is for coffee drinks.
Gabby. You can use it for teas, smoothies… They use the cacao for hot chocolate. We’ve got hydrate products – so freeze dried coconut. With only two ingredients so they have like…
Mark. So that’s for electrolytes, but it’s a natural electrolyte.
Gabby. Yeah. Big-time, so we’ve got that. And then they’ll start branching into other products, but right now we just tried to get this… Because this is a real representation of a deep love affair Laird has had with coffee for over 25 years. Deep. It’s deep.
Mark. I could see that when he made me my drink this morning.
Gabby. You see how ramped up he is? I always say Paul Chek was the first one to give him ghee 16 years ago. The two of them, like lunatics…
Mark. Yeah, Paul’s another lunatic. He’s great.
Gabby. I just heard him getting just like ramped up on caffeine and ghee. And I wasn’t drinking coffee. I was like “oh my god, I gotta hang out with these two guys for like the next three hours.” in a gym! Worst place ever. In a gym with Paul Chek and Laird. Caffeinated.
Mark. Wow, yeah. There’s a lot going on there.
Gabby. So yeah… So I think that’s the whole thing is Laird’s always interested in performance. Like today when you saw him, he was having chaga tea with caffeine. Gross, right?
Mark. I’m not I’m sure what chaga tea is.
Gabby. Chaga is a mushroom. The king of kings. People should definitely look into chaga. It’s really got a lot of health benefits.
Mark. Yeah. Check that out.
Gabby. Yeah. But you did great in the pool today by the way.
Mark. Thank you. It was a great experience. I wanted to stay in and just keep going. It took me a little while to find my fins, so to speak.
Gabby. You can come back, and we’ll do the real thing.
Mark. Yeah I’d like to do that.
Gabby. Yeah, no you can come back.
Mark. And I’ve got a little pool. I’ve got a little pool at my place so I’m gonna…
Gabby. Yeah, we’ll teach you everything in shallow, and you can get loaded up. And the one thing about the pool, even if you are literally Aquaman, you never do it alone. And you know this from navy seals.
Mark. Swim buddy. Gotta have a swim buddy.
Gabby. Actually the more talented you are, the more dangerous you are to yourself…
Mark. I remember, when I was at seal team 3, that the best swimmer used to – and we had one of those towers right for the dive training. And he would routinely hold his breath for six minutes or so just down there hanging out watching the students. And one day he didn’t come up.
Gabby. That’s it and that’s what we want to emphasize to people.
Mark. He pushed the envelope and they found him floating down there.
Gabby. And that’s not uncommon. Shallow water blackouts are the biggest threat. And that’s why Laird actually – we never really overly scrub CO2 – but that’s why he likes to do drills where for example before you even get in the pool your heart rates up or because you have a dumbbell.
Your body will not let you pass out. Because your heart-rate’s so high. It’s when you scrub and go hang…
Mark. You’re gonna really, really calm and then you just…
Gabby. That’s the problem. So Laird’s always like trying to make it as stressful as possible. We’re like “okay, we got it. Like we’re here, we got this.”
But I think it’s just really important for people to understand that you have to take training in water very serious.
Mark. Absolutely. I agree.
Well thank you so much for your time today I really appreciate it across-the-board.
And we’ll come back to do some training some time.
Gabby. Just come and play now.
Mark. Sounds awesome. So until next time, train hard, be safe with your training, stay focused and fuel well and get at it.